In the late 1950s the psychiatrist Giovanni Jervis joined in Ernesto De Martino’s team study of the ecstatic healing cult of tarantism in the Salentine Peninsula of southern Italy. After that experience, Jervis repeatedly participated in debates on De Martino’s legacy, always expressing his deep debt of gratitude to the philosopher-ethnologist. And indeed, it can be said that rethinking De Martino’s psychological intuitions is one of the most important themes in all of Jervis’ work. In particular, as my essay argues, Jervis developed the premises of a philosophical anthropology that fits De Martino’s phenomenological psychology of identity and the psychodynamic theme of defense mechanisms into the conceptual framework of the cognitive sciences.
Keywords: Crisis of presence, dehistoricization, defense mechanisms, selfidentity, self-consciousness